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How eCommerce Navigation Enhances the Product Discovery Journey

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Best-in-class online shopping experiences can’t be reduced to just one thing. When a customer encounters a great eCommerce experience, it’s the result of a carefully orchestrated purchasing path, where the merchant has exerted time and effort to do many things well to please the buyer. They’ve made investments in digital merchandising, product spotlighting, personalized recommendations, and more—so that collectively, these tactics generate an experience that drives the buying journey.

Complementing Site Search With eCommerce Navigation

But as a merchant, you must start somewhere. There comes a point when online retailers see their competition creeping up, where they realize that they need to do more. And so many of our customers start with search, which is great for us because it’s our core offering. It’s our bread and butter. Yet despite being a site search provider, even we know that at the end of the day, search is not enough.

To begin to optimize the shopping experience, it may be best to turn to search and navigation as your first experience-based store enhancements. But why navigation? To answer that, we’ll have to understand the limits of search, and why search and navigation go hand-in-hand.

What the Research on eCommerce Navigation Says

Nielson Norman Group, a global UX research and consulting firm, has found that optimizing just search is not enough. Here are four key reasons why:

  1. Cognitive Effort
  2. When websites prioritize search over navigation, users must invest more cognitive effort to create search queries and deal with the implications of weak site search. At a basic level, search requires knowledge of the search space. For example, if you are shopping for a product you haven’t shopped for before, or one more technical in nature, what attributes are most relevant? The best solution will be navigation-based, where category pages, combined with facets/filters, allow customers to familiarize themselves on what attributes are important for that product.

  3. Increased Memory Load
  4. Even if customers have searched on your site before and are familiar with the search space, they may not remember exactly how they searched last time. Again, navigation-based category pages and filters can offer a quick way for them to remember and jog their memory. Without optimized navigation to turn to, in relying solely on search, the customer could see completely different results each time, depending how they searched previously.

  5. Desktop Search is More Demanding
  6. Searching on a desktop has a higher interaction cost compared to browsing, especially on mobile devices. With more customers browsing on mobile, a smooth navigation experience offers even more ROI compared to search.

  7. Poor Search Skills Won’t Pay the Bills
  8. The reality is that many eCommerce shoppers will have poor search skills and won’t know how search works. Sure, customers might search for one-word queries and see decent results, but as soon as they search two, three, four keywords (long tail searches), search logics often break.

Help is On the Way: eCommerce Navigation Best Practices

So how do you create a great shopping experience with navigation? As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and we’ve created an on-demand webinar for you to learn how navigation can help you close more sales. Join Nextopia’s in-house navigation experts Stephen Newby and Jaret Meron as they walk you through how to sell better with navigation. In this webinar you will learn:

  • Why effective navigation is crucial for both your store and your customers
  • How to overcome the most common navigation challenges
  • Navigation tips and best practices that enable customers to find what they’re looking for
  • How leveraging navigation adds value to your business

Avoid risking lost sales due to lack of or sub-par navigation. Watch this webinar on-demand and learn how to take your store to the next level.

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